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Divisional rankings: Middleweight

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Whittaker beats Brunson in thriller (0:30)

Robert Whittaker picks up his sixth consecutive win by defeating Derek Brunson via first-round TKO in a back-and-forth brawl in Melbourne, Australia. (0:30)

Check out my rankings within each division by clicking on the links below.

Who is the best fighter regardless of weight class? See ESPN's pound-for-pound rankings. Plus, check out our women's pound-for-pound rankings.

Note: Results through Jan. 3.

Divisional Rankings

Heavyweight | Light heavyweight
Middleweight | Welterweight | Lightweight
Featherweight | Bantamweight | Flyweight
Women's bantamweight | Women's strawweight


MIDDLEWEIGHT DIVISION (UP TO 185 POUNDS)

1. Michael Bisping (30-7)
The UFC champion recorded his first defense in October, but it was a more difficult fight than many expected going in. Dan Henderson gave Bisping all he could handle in a five-round fight. Contenders are licking their chops at the thought of taking Bisping's belt. He has a rather large target on his back.
Next: TBD

2. Luke Rockhold (15-3)

Rockhold's UFC title reign was short-lived, as he went down in the first round of his first title defense -- against an opponent who came in on two weeks' notice. Did he take Bisping too lightly? Whether he did or not, the Brit knocked him out cold at UFC 199.
Next: TBD

3. Yoel Romero (12-1)
Romero missed the first half of 2016 with an anti-doping issue, but after receiving a reduced suspension due to a successful tainted supplement defense, he bounced back in full force with a spectacular knockout over Chris Weidman. He may very well be the best pure athlete in the sport.
Next: TBD

4. Ronaldo Souza (22-4)
How many statements does "Jacare" need to make before the UFC grants him a title shot? Coming off a completely one-sided performance over Vitor Belfort at UFC 198, there aren't many options left that make sense for Souza other than a title shot. But surgery on a meniscus tear will slow his chances.
Next: TBD

5. Chris Weidman (13-2)
2016 was a nightmare year for Weidman, as he was forced to pull out of a title fight in June due to injury and then suffered a highlight-reel KO loss to Yoel Romero in December. He's a good candidate to bounce back, but for the first time in his career, his back is a little bit against the wall.
Next: TBD

6. Gegard Mousasi (41-6-2)
Mousasi took a quick "detour" from the UFC title to avenge a loss against Uriah Hall. With that business out of the way, Mousasi has his sights set on a No. 1 contenders bout.
Next: TBD

7. Robert Whittaker (17-4)

The 25-year-old Aussie has really found his groove since moving up a weight class in 2014. He has now won six in a row, while steadily facing higher competition. A first-round finish over Derek Brunson in November felt like a "signature win."
Next: TBD

8. Lyoto Machida (21-6)
The former light heavyweight champion made an immediate splash at 185 pounds in 2013, but he has dropped three of four. He's also been finished in his past two and is now under suspension for an anti-doping violation. Not a good stretch.
Next: TBD

9. Derek Brunson (16-4)
A five-fight win streak came to a screeching halt in Melbourne, Australia, as Brunson was knocked out by Robert Whittaker in the first round. He was a bit wild in that loss, just his second in the UFC.
Next: TBD

10. David Branch (20-3)
Branch hasn't faced the best competition in the world on his way to becoming a two-division WSOF champion, but he has been nothing if not consistent. The 35-year-old is on a 10-fight win streak.
Next: TBD